Are you in the gym thinking that I want to lift weights but don’t know where to start? So, you decide to scroll through Instagram to find a piece of guidance to help you make the right choice, but all you find are influencers promoting the idea of "Go Heavy or Go Home".
You might feel overwhelmed by this, but lifting and healthy living are not that simple to crack.
Both heavy-weight/low reps’ approach as well as light-weight/high reps’ approach are beneficial on their own ways depending upon your goals. Know more about which approach is right for you.
What is the right rep range?
For both bodybuilders and athletes as well as gym goers, gaining muscle mass is a common goal. When we discuss muscular growth, we are referring to hypertrophy. Hypertrophy refers to increase and growth of muscle cells. Although we can't add more of a certain type of muscle fiber, we can enlarge the ones we already have. In actuality, lifting heavy for low reps, moderate weight for moderate reps, and light weight for high reps all have their merits.
Low rep range with Heavy weight
So as of now, it’s safe to say that using heavy weight for fewer reps is crucial for gaining size and strength. This is because lifting heavy leads to activation of Type 2 or "fast twitch muscles" which are crucial for increasing muscle strength and size, but the downside to these muscles is that they fatigue quickly. So, relying solely on heavy weight and low reps could be fatiguing and could lead to losing the muscle’s capacity to keep up with stress. Thus, many heavy lifters take deload to relax the muscles and regain strength.
Don’t focus on just one rep range
As you can see, if you just concentrate on heavy weights for low reps, it's difficult to maintain the appropriate training volume for optimal muscle growth. Likewise, lifting light weights frequently is not the best method for building strength.
Then why should I lift lighter weight with high rep range?
So, the answer is, when you increase your rep range to high, your ability to handle heavier weight decreases. That isn’t enough to activate type 2 muscle fibers. The high-rep lighter weight approach activates type 1 muscle fibers, or "slow twitch" muscle fibers, which are said to be endurance-based muscles that are slower to fatigue.
This means that when you lift lighter weights for higher reps, you gain muscle endurance. Also, when you lift weights for a longer period of time, this helps to burn more calories and fat for a more ripped or toned body and gives you a better pump.
Both are beneficial
So as to conclude, it’s safe to say that lower reps with heavier weights helps to build muscle mass whereas higher reps with lighter weights help in building muscle endurance.